Just Bag It

The other day I got an email from a local nonprofit organization announcing “an amazing opportunity.” That certainly piqued my interest – for a few seconds. What was this amazing opportunity? Well, the email directed me to go to one of two branches of a major...

Naming the Number

A few years ago I was the chair of a nonprofit organization that was urgently raising money for a new building. As part of that effort I called an affluent donor and close friend named Bill. I explained the need, and I noted that the building was to be named after a...

Stories, Not Bullet Points

We all tell stories, though not necessarily well. I like to think I’m better at it than most, but my too-deliberate-and-full-of-detail style doesn’t work with everyone. It particularly bugs my friend Mary. On more than one occasion she’s interrupted my meandering...

Making “The Ask” For the Faint of Heart

So here’s the scene: You’re approaching a donor for a gift to your nonprofit organization. She responds enthusiastically and wants to help with the project. According to conventional wisdom, this is when you ask her for a specific dollar amount: “Mary, we’d like you...

The Best Kind of “Ask”

I was giving a fundraising seminar a couple of weeks ago. Most of the audience members were nonprofit CEOs, development directors, and Board members. A woman asked me, “So the other day I was sitting at Rotary with a man I knew had lots of money. But I couldn’t figure...